Liberia school fire leaves many children dead near Monrovia

Crowds of people gathered near the school on Wednesday


At least 27 people, many of them children, have been killed in a fire at a boarding school in a suburb of the Liberian capital Monrovia.

The fire is believed to have broken out in the early hours of the morning, when Koranic school students were sleeping in a building near their mosque.

Police have told the BBC they are still looking for bodies in the building, in the Paynesville area.

President George Weah has visited the scene and expressed his condolences.

Eyewitness Pastor Emmanuel Herbert told the BBC that he woke up to sounds of the fire and raised the alarm.

“When I looked through the window, I saw the whole place blazing with fire,” he told the BBC.

But he said he could not get into the building because there was only one entrance, which was blocked.

Officials told AFP news agency that the victims were 10 years old and above.

Hundreds of people stood in shock as Red Cross ambulances evacuated the bodies of the children from their boarding house in Paynesville, seven miles (11.3km) east of Monrovia.

People wailed and wept.

So many curious onlookers had made their way to the scene that the police had to grapple with the crowd to make way for ambulances to pass through.

One of the visitors in the morning was President Weah. He was due to attend the funeral at mosque in Monrovia in the afternoon.

The plan was for the burial to follow shortly after, in keeping with Islamic law which says a person must be buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, more people were still heading to the school half way through the day. (BBC)